I have just finished reading John Lawton's Black Out earlier this morning, and I am still humming with the delightful thought that there are on my shelves three more Troy books to be read.
It is February 1944, and as the country waits for the opening of the Second Front a ragged stump of a human arm is found by boys playing on a bomb site in Stepney. When Polish pathologist Kolankiewicz identifies the body as that of a German, from a cufflink with a Munich hallmark, and informs Frederick Troy about another German found the previous year on Tower beach, with a bullet hole in his cheek, Troy realises he is on the trail of a serial killer. But a very unusual serial killer with some powerful connections.
'Forty-five automatic? There's a Colt forty-five automatic that's a standard issue American-forces weapon.'
'Yes-but the black market these days. I know a pub in Mill Hill where you could buy a Howitzer over the counter.' Kolanciewicz gestured at the cafe window. 'Most of your colonial cousins would sell you any thing from a pair of nylons to a half- track. You need a second-hand Flying Fortress? Try the Railwayman's Arms in Mill Hill.
And the money they get they spend monopolising the buttered scones of Olde England!'
If you thought you had read everything on the theme of the serial killer this superb police procedural gives it a new twist, and keeps you guessing the outcome until the very end.
On top of the excellent plot with a few surprises John Lawton gives the reader an evocation of wartime London second to none, and a group of unforgettable characters. The clever reliable Constable Jack Wildeve, Kolanciewicz the mad Polish pathologist, the solid Superintendent Stanley Onions, Troy's eccentric scientist uncle Nikolai, the tall elegant Lady Diana Brack, and the short bubbly blonde American WAC Tosca all feature in a wonderful ensemble cast along with the hero Frederick Troy.
Troy is the younger son of a millionaire Russian emigre newspaper owner, who has become a dedicated policeman abandoning the vacuous lifestyle of many of his class to be an ordinary 'copper'.
His family connections gained him a special dispensation from the Met's height restriction, but his shortness never hampers his 'success' with women, and I wondered if this was one reason why I liked the Troy series so much.
Black Out is a wonderful read with an original plot, evocative atmosphere, and great characters it represents crime fiction at its very best. And it is quite fun as well.
'Gorgeous,' he said, inhaling from the jar. 'Pity we've nothing to eat with it.'
'We have,' she said out of sight.
He turned. She had taken of her blouse and was unhooking her brassiere, unleashing a bosom of such magnificence as to stagger the beholder.
She grasped the jar and upended it over her torso.
'OK, baby. I'm yours. Sauce me!'